Creating A Virtual Reality Automotive Showroom
The Immersive Media Lab at the University of Southern California
Director: Candace Rckinger
Technical Director | Project Lead: Jordan Halsey
Programming Lead: Shaoyu Su
Lead Developer: Stephanie Ng
Fab Cars Virtual Reality Automotive Showroom was a multi-year project within the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. Our directive was to re-imagine the future of the automotive showroom and the car purchasing experience. Over three years, the lab produced:
- A Virtual Reality Automotive Showroom with Configurable Cars.
- Four Virtual Reality Driving Experiences.
- An Augmented Reality Application.
- A Hardware Driving Solution.
- Large L.E.D. Screen Integration.
Building a Virtual Reality Automotive Showroom with Unreal Engine
The virtual showroom went through a few design changes throughout the project. The final design was inspired by racing stripe designs from the 1970s, Los Angeles artist John McCracken, and the Mercedes Showroom designed by Kauffmann Theilig & Partner, Freie Architekten BDA
Designing the Virtual Reality Showroom with Houdini and Unreal Engine
3D Modeling the Automotive Showroom
I used Houdini to 3D model the showroom. The Virtual Reality showroom and driving experiences were built using Unreal Engine 4.72 and SideFX Houdini 19 using Houdini Engine. The project was set up using Unreal Engines Forward Shading and relied heavily on baked lighting. The car was spawned using a custom blueprint that allowed for multiple configurable cars. Users could change the color of the paint, the interior colors, and trim options.
Worldbuilding with Houdini and Unreal Engine 4.27
The terrains were designed and built in SideFX Houdini using the Heightfield tools to create the landscapes. Terrain layers in Unreal Engine were defined by attributes used to blend materials and procedurally spawn foliage.
Fab Cars Fantasy Landscape designed by students Parker and Jarod Chatham
Seaside Drive Experience
Creating the environments with Houdini and Unreal Engine 4.27
Procedural Tool Development
We extensively used Houdini Digital Assets to streamline our pipeline. By using Houdini Digital Assets we were able to build an easily updatable pipeline.
Early Cinematic Renders In Unreal Engine
Building and Testing the Live Virtual Driving Experience
Dimitris Psillakis, CEO of Mercedes Benz USA taking a test drive in Virtual Reality
Lead Developer Stephanie Ng gets the system up and running